Slovakia (Slovak Slovensko) is a landlocked country in Central Europe bordering Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Hungary. The capital and largest city of the country is Bratislava.
The territory of today’s Slovakia was settled by the Slavs towards the end of the 5th century. Their first political entity was the Samo Empire (7th century), later Slovakia was one of the centres of the early medieval Moravian Empire. In the 11th century Slovakia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary, which was part of the Habsburg Monarchy from 1526 and part of Austria-Hungary from 1867. After the dissolution of the Dual Monarchy in 1918, Slovakia became part of the newly established Czechoslovakia, except during the period from 1939 to 1945, when the then Slovak State existed. After the end of the Second World War the Czechoslovak state was restored. On 1 January 1993, after the peaceful division of this state, the independent Slovak Republic was established as the national state of the Slovaks. Slovakia has been a member of the European Union since 2004.
Viticulture is practised mainly in the south on the border with Hungary and in the west along the border with the Czech Republic. The area under vines in 2015 was approximately 22,452 hectares. Many of these are still largely unknown wine-growing regions. Slovakia is one of the northernmost wine-growing regions in Europe. It has a continental climate with hot summers and cool winters and moderate rainfall.
In addition to wines from international grape varieties, more and more quality wines from guaranteed origins are being pressed with indigenous Slovak grape varieties such as Alibernet, Dunaj, Pálava or Devín.
The climate allows for a wide range of wines. The names of these wines often show the models of Austria and Hungary: Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Welschriesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Muskateller are important white grape varieties, while Blauburgunder, Blauer Portugieser, Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon and St. Laurent are of great importance for the red wines.
The focus of Slovak viticulture is clearly on white wine, which accounts for around two-thirds of total production.
Slovakia is divided into six main wine-growing regions and each region has several smaller sub-regions.
Wine-growing regions in Slovakia – terroirs
Here in Malokarpatská, as the region in Slovakia is called, wines are made according to the Austrian model. The focus is on white wine, which is mainly made from the grape varieties Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Pinot Blanc and Silvaner. Blaufränkisch and St. Laurent are the main red grape varieties.
In the southwest of the country lies the Nitrianska wine region, named after the important town of Nitra. The wine-growing region is located in the interior east of Bratislava.
The Nitra wine-growing region is characterised by the river of the same name, which flows into the Váh shortly before it flows into the Danube.
In the national language the rather remote region is called Východoslovenská. The winegrowers of this rather fragmented region are very much oriented towards their Hungarian neighbours.
In the south of the country there is also viticulture, in the Južnoslovenská region.
The wine-growing region of Southern Slovakia extends as far as the Danube basin and is protected from cold northern winds by elevations in its “back”. Thus, very good results can be achieved here, especially in comparison to the other wine-growing regions of the country.
The Tokajská wine region is known for its Tokaj-style wine, as it is known from Hungary. For many years this name was taken for granted and the name Tokajer was used for the wine produced there without contradiction. But then followed the disputes with Hungary, because Hungary wanted to accept the name Tokajer exclusively for wines from the region of the same name in its own country. After many years of discussion, an agreement was finally reached in 2003. Since then, the sweet Slovak wines from a clearly defined area in the southeast of the country can still be called Tokaj wines. Slovakia did not achieve full success with this, however, as this practice was banned for some wine-growing communities.
As the name of the region and the long-standing disputes with Hungary suggest, a wine is produced here that is very similar to the Hungarian Tokaj. Sweet wines clearly dominate here.
The Stredoslovenská growing area stretches like a narrow strip along the border with Hungary. In the wine-growing region of Central Slovakia, wines are primarily pressed for the local market. However, there are now some winegrowers who are achieving very good results and are beginning to successfully position their wines on the international wine market.
A stay in Slovakia can be combined with a visit to the wineries. The Little Carpathians wine-growing region is also known to tourists as part of the Small Carpathians Wine Route. The length of the route of less than 100 km makes it a pleasant experience. Wine lovers should keep an eye on the wines of Slovakia. They are ready to be discovered.